Blackberry Farm’s design team makes the trip from Walland, Tennessee, to Round Top, Texas
Nestled in the misty foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains on 4,200 acres, Blackberry Farm has quietly become one of the most luxurious escapes in the country, if not the world. It all started when Kreis and Sandy Beall dreamt of sharing their home and its mystical surroundings with good friends over good food and good conversation. In 1976, Blackberry Farm opened to the public as a six-room country inn.
In 2001, the Beall’s son, Sam, and his wife Mary Celeste, took over management of the property, and the couple carried on the family tradition of bringing people together and building a community on the farm until Sam’s untimely death in 2016. Now, Mary Celeste, her father-in-law Sandy, and a staff that has grown to 800 people, honor Sam’s legacy – his love of food and wine, adventure sports, and living life to the fullest. All while extending genuine, heartfelt hospitality to all guests, something that comes from creating opportunities for real connection, whether it’s around a table, by a fire, at breakfast, on a bike ride, or over a cocktail.
Gourmet dinners, world-class wellness programming and concerts headlined by Grammy award-winning artists are some of the experiences to be shared. Private and intimate, for guests only, these events bond guests to this place and to one another. Well-appointed accommodations also provide that feeling of belonging.
At our core, we design spaces that make people feel comfortable.
“First, it has to be welcoming,” says Jason Bell, Director of Design. “At our core, we design spaces that make people feel comfortable. After your journey to arrive here, or after an all-day activity, you want to come back to a space that envelopes you with thoughtfulness. Our design goes beyond a beautiful, inspiring room to one that also anticipates how you want to experience it.”
The newest addition to the property is Blackberry Mountain, a wilderness resort built into Tennessee’s Chilhowee Mountain. The summit of Southern comfort, Blackberry Mountain offers much more than a little R&R. It’s designed for active, outdoorsy guests with its 25 miles of trails, including a one-mile hike to the restaurant, and a range of adventures like mountain biking and rock climbing. Natural light fills the rooms of inspiring indoor spaces where activities like Pilates and pottery are intended to flex different muscles.
Each property has its own look and distinct flair. Blackberry Farm has an English Country feel. Blackberry Mountain has an edgier, more eclectic vibe.
“Both Blackberry Farm and Blackberry Mountain allowed our team to explore very different areas of design as we developed both. Each property has its own look and distinct flair. Blackberry Farm has an English Country feel. Blackberry Mountain has an edgier, more eclectic vibe. To accomplish this, it required our team to research outside the box for new vendors who have a wide variety of collections to choose from, thus our discovery of Round Top,” Jason says. “Being part of a company that is hospitality-driven at its core, we know hospitality when we see it, and that is what Round Top vendors are all so great at,” he says.
For these buying trips, Blackberry Farm sends Jason and Samantha Feuer, Senior Interior Designer, along with a core group of team members, to Round Top for a week to 10 days.
“When just Samantha and I go, it’s very efficient, but it can be up to six of us,” Jason says. And they cover a lot of ground. “There are very few vendors that we haven’t met,” he says. “Market Hill has proven to be a great hub for us. We have developed a relationship with Paul Michael and use the space like an office away from our office. When we are on the road for seven to 10 days, the hospitality at Market Hill is so greatly appreciated, and there’s the food and the entertainment.”
As for their shopping strategy, Samantha says, “We come very prepared for our journey and always travel with scaled floor plans, lists upon lists of items we need to find, all organized by project. It’s the only way to get through it all most efficiently.”
Among the projects Blackberry Farm Design will be shopping for this fall are mostly residential homes on the farm and mountain.
“Like most things at Blackberry,” Jason says, “the team creates experiences and spaces that are memorable and, oftentimes, our guests want to take a bit of that home with them. From cheeses they enjoy in the dining room to a fly-fishing rod they cast on Hessee Creek, guests are finding items that remind them of Blackberry and continue to inspire them when they return home.”
“Design is no different,” he says, “the spaces created by the design team have been inspiring others to create a welcoming environment in their own homes for decades. Over that time, Blackberry Farm Design has evolved from primarily focused on guest spaces to expanding that to private homes on the property and a very limited and select group of clients beyond the property.”
“We are a very progressive company, a design-centric company,” Jason says. “We have worked on-property and off-property. A big piece of our future is to go in that direction, but we are currently inundated with on-property projects, including 35 private homes on Blackberry Mountain,” he says. “[We have] found Round Top to be a great source of vendors over the past few years. We are inspired by the people we meet, the products we see, the special items that we find,” he says. “Our design team is excited about what the future holds for us, where the next project will lead us, the experiences it will provide us and, most of all, the relationships we will develop with our clients and vendors in order to make it all happen.”
To read more about the Blackberry Farm experience, visit BlackberryFarm.com.